I still remember the first time I installed KDE
. It was way back in 1998. KDE 1.0 was not yet released. It was a day before our presentation of our main project in College. Our main project was called JC++. JC++ a platform independent C++. The concept was that of JAVA but the programmer wrote code in C++. There was a compiler which compiled the C++ code for a VM. Then the interpreter would interpret the byte-code. We were a 4 member team. The project was a tough one and we really could not finish it the way we wanted it to be. However, it was a great experience on its own. I had all my project partners at my place for about a month before the project was completed. Sangeetha was the only one who used to come from her home everyday. She was also the only one who was really serious about getting the code to work. The thing I like about her the most is her desire to never give up. By the end the other 3 including me had given up. But Sangeetha was as confident as ever that we’ll finish.
For the presentation our idea was to mix in scenes from the movie “The Lion King”. The analogy was simple. C++ was great king with a kind, generous heart. C++ ruled the computer world. Much like Mufasa in the Lion King. Then we had JAVA coming in. JAVA is played by Scar in the movie Lion King. Scar is Mufasa’s brother. This evil, cunning betrayer takes the place of the king of the programming world by getting a concept of platform independence which, if you look at it logically, was there from ages. Enter, JC++ the rightful king. JC++ is played by our very own Simba in the movie. JC++ is both platform independent as well has the benefits of C++.
A note for all those JAVA fans out there. This is just a presentation we had made for our college project. We have no intention of bashing JAVA. All languages are good and have some good purpose.
Back in those days we all used fvwm as our window manger and we though that it was cool as it looked like M$ Windoze. Just the night before our presentation we had reached nowhere with the presentation as well as the project. But all was not lost, we got the latest unstable KDE with us. KDE could in no way save us in the project, but it sure looked good. So the 3 of us, me , Azad and Mahesh sat down to compile it on our boxes. Sangeetha had gone home by then. I am sure if she was there we would have been minced meat if we even thought in the lines of anything but the project. But she wasn’t there and we did compile KDE. It took us over 5 hours to get it working on our slackware. But it was well worth the time spent. Till this day I have the same happiness and excitement whenever I see a new version of KDE released.
KDE stands for the K Desktop Environment. As with most GNU/Linux stuff, the first character does not really stand for anything of significance. In my opinion KDE has been one of the best open source projects which has actually gotten Linux/ Unix to the desktop world. There have been many other fine projects for desktops such as GNOME , Windowmaker , FVWM etc.(note we are not discussing the numerous other good open source projects here). KDE is an easy to use Desktop. It has an intuitive GUI and a great look and feel. To know more about what KDE is you can go to the site http://kde.org.
First let’s take a look at how KDE looks. After all looks do matter. The good looking ones find it easier to live in this big bad world. When it comes to KDE’s looks, it can give Miss Universe a complex. KDE can look the way you want it to. It is skinnable.If you miss the M$ world you can give it a XP skin. If you always wanted to own a Mac but could never afford it, you can make your wonderful KDE look just like the Mac OSX desktop. You can change every aspect of KDE – the icon set , the menu bar , the window decoration, the splash screen and so on.
Then comes the way it behaves which again is as expected, it can be totally customized.Finally, comes the apps which go with this wonderful desktop.
If it wasn’t for the apps I am sure the desktop would not have been as successful. I’ll make a list of some of my favorite apps which is the reason why I like KDE the most.
Konqueror is a file manager , web browser as well as a unversal application viewer. It is light and displays web pages quite well. In konqueror you can change the browser identification. So if you want you can make the webserver think that you are accessing the page using M$ IE. Some sites load up only if the browser is IE. You can also translate the web page from different languages to English and vise-versa. Another good features it has it you can image gallaries. Besides all this it does all the functions of what a modern browser should do.
Kontact is an PIM. You have kmail, kaddressbook , korganiser, knode (news reader) and knotes bundled together. This can really help a person get organised well. I also organise my mail in a good way. Only unresponded mails or mails which require action to be taken remain in the inbox.Rest all go to different folders. I keep one for clients , friends , family and so on.
Kuickshow a good graphics viewer. It can view just about any format jpeg, gif , pngs etc. Klipper is an excellent multiple cut and paste utility. It keeps a history of cut and paste. So things get easy. kget is an advanced download manager. kwallet is a wallet management tool. Stores all passwords for us. Kopete is an instant messaging system which connects to various different services. One can connect to AIM , Yahoo, MSN , ICQ. kget , kwallet and klipper and kopete can all be docked into the panel.
The clock in the panel has a benifit where we can see the time in any place at any time. So if I have an appointment with somebody in Boston at 8:00 a.m. All I have to do is get the clock to display Boston time. Tobby at one time had two time applets running on his panel. One was the local time so he knows when it is time to have lunch and the other was Sidney time.
Besides all these you have an office suite with a good word processor , a spreadsheet and presentation software etc. There is a good pdf viewer , There are lots good games. multimedia players and so on.
But what makes K so good is these simple apps which increase our productivity. This is what the windoze world lacks. Sensible apps. I once went to clients place in San Jose. They like us have clients all around the world. So they keep 7 different physical clocks to see what the time is in London , Berlin, Sidney and so on.
To be a happy K user you have to really use it and feel it. Only then we realize that the desire to use it comes from within. And soon it becomes an integral part of your life. As Rafiki the monkey in the Lion King puts it –
You see? He lives in you.
Note – This article is also published on linuxgazette :)